Date
18 October 2017
Hong Kong police are on the back foot after global media carried television footage of some officers beating up an unarmed pro-democracy protester. Photo: AFP
Hong Kong police are on the back foot after global media carried television footage of some officers beating up an unarmed pro-democracy protester. Photo: AFP

PR nightmare may force police to rethink some plans

The Hong Kong police are believed to have called an urgent meeting after seven officers were caught on video beating a pro-democracy protester in the early hours of Wednesday, Ming Pao Daily News reported.

The meeting was to determine whether the officers had used brutal tactics, according to the report. Meanwhile, an order is said to have been issued within the squad not to disclose the identities of the persons involved in the controversial incident near Lung Wo Road.

However, as prima facie evidence has pointed to a criminal case, the police are very likely to open a formal investigation and the seven officers could face charges of causing bodily harm, the paper said.

Police sources were quoted as saying that the incident could affect the force’s plans to clear out the Occupy Central protest sites.

Video footage of the shocking attack Wednesday have been beamed by media around the world, causing serious damage to the reputation of the Hong Kong police. 

Chan Cho-kwong, chairman of the Junior Police Officers’ Association, said frontline officers have been under enormous pressure over the past few weeks, having had to endure long work hours. Now, the allegations by the public that officers have broken the law themselves will only add to the stress.

Sources said senior management of the police is furious about the developments, and that it is worried about potential mental breakdown by frontline staff due to the high level of stress.

It is believed that the police are now divided into two camps. One camp considers the incident as a serious case and says that offenders, if found guilty, must be penalized in order to clear the name of the force. The other camp, meanwhile, fears any high-profile punishment could severely dent the already fragile morale of the frontline officers.

The police are likely to treat the incident as a criminal case and internal disciplinary hearings will follow.

The seven police officers have now been reassigned to other duties, pending investigations.

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EL/AC/RC

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